Craig Groeschel: We Innovate for Jesus

Speaker Info:

Craig is the senior pastor for and provides leadership and guidance for the church as a whole. He has written several books, including his recent release, Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working.

Keep in mind, these are raw. I’ll be summarizing and organizing my thoughts over at ChurchMag at a later time. Meanwhile, here’s what I gathered from session one:

Turn your head if they hit you once, it doesn’t say what to do if they hit you twice.

Craig homeschool’s his kids.

  • They make their own clothes, church their own butter… (joke).

Go back a few hundred years and the church was the epicenter of creativity.

  • They were leading in the Arts
  • Now people are shocked when a church innovates.

Whenever the word Christian is in front of something it’s perceived to be second rate.

  • Christian movies
  • Christian clothes
  • Christian music

The church should be the leaders in creativity and innovation.

Some stats about YouVersion

  • This month there were 2.2 Billion minutes logged reading the Bible on YouVersion.
  • There are 17,000 Bible reading plans finished every day.
  • Someone said they were surprised that a church created the best Bible app.

Mark 2:1-5

Innovation isn’t as much about what we do, but how we think.

  • When you can learn to think differently, you can become what God has intended you to be and innovate.

How to create an environment where innovation is real

Limited resources + a willingness to fail + increasing passion = exponential innovation

Limited resources

Look at the 4 men in the Mark 2 story.

  • Didn’t have the transportation
  • They already prayed, and God didn’t do anything.
  • They could carry him, but it’s not guaranteed to do anything

“We can’t because we don’t” mentality – Wrong mentality.

  • We can’t add a new service because we don’t have enough volunteers.
  • We can’t have a full worship band because we can’t afford to pay them.
  • We can’t do real church because we don’t have a real building, and a lot of people.

“You have everything you need to reach everyone God wants you to reach.”

We can because we don’t mentality – Right mentality.

“Limited resources are not a hindrance to innovation, they are a catalyst for it.”

If God gives you what you think you need you won’t see what he wants you to see.

“Gold and silver I do not have… get up and walk”

If God gave you what you thought you needed, you wouldn’t see what he wanted you to see.

“Embrace you limitation. Limitations are the breeding ground for innovation.”

Failure is not an option. Failure is a necessity.

You have to be willing to fail.

Risk it.

If you want to be a 5 talent leader for Jesus, you have to put it all on the line.

Failure is often the first step in God’s process to success.

Craig’s first video service was called Avoda.

  • Went from 200 people to 4 people in no time. Failure.

The key to multi-site is not in the technology, it’s in the people.

YouVersion bible app was supposed to be a website where people share socially and engage with the word.

  • If failed as a website.
  • They started an app– well you know what happened next.

Try, fail, learn, adjust. Repeat.

Story about a horse in a well.

  • When dirt gets thrown on you, shake it off and step up.

Change a “want to” to a “have to”

  • We want to reach people for Jesus…
  • We HAVE TO reach people for Jesus.

If you believe that people are headed to a very real fate in a place called Hell unless they come to Jesus, you HAVE TO reach them.

Forget church growth– we’re talking about populating the kingdom of God.

If you want to reach people for Jesus…

  • You have to be willing to break the rules of man.
  • You have to care about reaching people than you do about pleasing church people.
  • “Hmm, we can’t get him in the front door so we’ll cut a hole in the roof to get him to Jesus.”
  • 1500’s Martin Luther said we have got to get the Word of God to the people. He broke the rules.

Innovation happens when you care more about reaching people than you do about the approval of men.

“If you’re not being called a cult every now and then, you’re not doing jack.”


Q: Why are you still in a local church? You’d do great in a company.

A: I love love love the church. As imperfect as she is, it’s God’s chosen vessel to bring his light into this world. To reach people no one’s reaching, you have to do things no one’s doing.

Q: Why did you decide to not enter your church numbers for the [big survey]?

A: I didn’t want to see ourselves as big and successful. When you’re big and successful people think you’re slow moving. I didn’t want people to call us a mega-church, we are a micro church.

Q: What does home-family rhythm look like?

A: One day off per week. Kids are home educated. The one day off is the kid’s day. I don’t want my kids to get A’s in Algebra but grow up to not love Jesus. [Academic Idolatry]

Q: Where would you encourage a younger leader today?

A: You’re not in the JV right now– you can fully glorify God where you’re at now. You don’t have to wait until you’ve reached a certain position.

Secondly no matter what, when you’re under someone support them. Love them, honor them.

Look for multiple mentors. You want to be a great dad– find someone who is a great dad. You want to be a great leader, find someone who is a great leader.

Q: How many services to try to have at one location?

A: Based on two values. I’m a fanatic for evangelism– I grew up in a church and didn’t know Jesus. I’m a fanatic for stewardship. I want to keep things basic. I grew up loving sacrifice. We can do as many as 8 services per weekend. We have a shorter service time.

Craig is probably the most quotable speaker at the entire conference. Wow! As a creative, this talk just lit me up! What stood out most to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


  1. says

    What hit most….

    HAVE TO instead of want to
    Forget church growth– we’re talking about populating the kingdom of God.

    I went to the Global Leadership Summit this past Thursday and Friday and he was one of the speakers… I really enjoyed his talk! I have to choose two speakers to write a reflection paper (I went as part of one of my courses) on and he his talk definitely is one of them!

    He talked about the older and younger generations and how they need to link together. About the older generation he said “If you are not dead, you are not dead” and challenged them to be a spiritual father/mother/etc.

    About us young generation, he called us “entitled”. He said that we typically overestimate what you can do in the short run but you will almost grossly underestimate what you can do in a lifetime of faithfulness. He reminded us that “Respect is earned, honour is given.”

    That’s just a little bit…but it was great. He is an engaging speaker too.

    • says

      Yes! I love Craig Groeschel. I’ve heard him say that before about overestimating what you can do in the short run. So true.

      I think he’s spot on when he talks about the older and younger generation partnering together. It kills me that these two demographics are often separated into completely unrelated ministries. Rick Warren talks a lot about this concept too. In fact he’s pretty much handed over the leader ship of his church to 20-somethings so that the older generation leaders can just be mentors.

  2. says

    That’s really cool what Rick Warren did. I would love to see more mentoring at my little church. Well, any churches really. Yes, more working together/partnership among the various generations and ministries flowing together rather than in the individual silos that appear in so many churches.